I recently experienced something that might put fear into the heart of any freelance graphic designer who prints proofs on a home printer — my printer, an HP OfficeJet 6500, suddenly stopped printing black ink. How could this be?! I know of some people who let their color ink run out of their printer (obviously they are not graphic designers) and only use their printers for black ink printing.
So I did what any self-respecting amateur printer technician would do in my position — I got out a new black in cartridge and switched them! Did it work? No, of course not. I proceeded to “print” yet another blank page. It’s rare that things work out that easily!
Enter Google, stage Left…
When something goes wrong, when I can’t figure something out, or when I need some advice from someone who doesn’t have a conscious mind I turn to Google. In this case it turned up several interesting suggestions, among them unplugging and then plugging the printer back in, turning off the printer overnight, and reinstalling the printer software. After unplugging my printer and reinstalling the software I decided to try the more extreme method of fixing the problem, which was outlined by a person who discovered their own solution to a Yahoo! Answers question that they had posted — taking the printer heads out of the printer and rinsing them under warm water.
This is a foreign concept to me. Take apart my printer? No way, not even if you pay me. But risk having to spend a couple hundred more dollars on a nice printer or try this last ditch effort to fix the one I have? You bet!
And to my surprise, when I took out the little contraption under the ink cartridges it looked like the black printer had vomited all over it. And then dried. And then vomited again.
So with my husband’s help we rinsed off the chunks of dried ink, patted it dry and let it sit on the kitchen counter while we went into town. As soon as we returned I put it back in the printer, replaced the ink cartridges that I had initially pulled out of the printer (including the original black ink cartridge), and it proceeded to print out a page that apparently was still in the queue. Ta-da! I fixed the printer!
This whole scenario led to me also googling how to store an open ink cartridge since I certainly didn’t want my brand new XL black ink cartridge to dry up on me. It is now in the bottom drawer of my filing cabinet in a Ziploc bag with a moist paper towel. Let’s hope it works when I eventually go to install it in the printer!